The Hammer of God by Arthur C. Clarke
Humans are now living on Mars, the Moon, and the moons of Jupiter. Captain Robert Singh is the captain of the spaceship Goliath. The Goliath has the power for rescue missions, but is usually only used for scientific exploration. Most of the asteroids in the Solar System have been mapped, but there is always more to discover.
One asteroid entered the Solar System and made its presence known in a terrifying way. It’s flight path has it heading straight for Earth. The Goliath is pulled from exploration duty to set a nuclear charge on it that would change its course just enough to have it miss Earth. If only it were that easy…
Clarke has envisioned a future in The Hammer of God that has virtual reality memories stored for recreation whenever needed. Houses on Earth are self contained machines that are portable if a family decides to move to a new area. Both the Moon and Mars have been colonized for so long that new generations are growing on them of people who have never been to, nor want to visit, Earth. If Earth is destroyed by Kali, the name given to the asteroid, humans wouldn’t become extinct. Yet it is still the planet with the largest concentration of people.
The Hammer of God is not only about the destructive asteroid approaching Earth, but the actuality of Clarke’s future. It goes back and forth from the “present” into Singh’s past as it is remembered. It is as much about the progress of mankind as it is a suspense story of the final outcome of Earth. These type of apocalyptic stories are common in science fiction, but Clarke is able to put his own signature on this one with the rounded civilization that is presented. It may not be Clarke’s best, but it is still a good read.